Cast & Crew
In the 21st century, Zero X, the first manned spaceship to Mars, is sabotaged, and International Rescue, an organization headed by millionaire ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his five sons, is requested to be present for the followup launching. Assisted by London agent Lady Penelope and her Cockney servant Parker, the I. R. prevents enemy forces from causing a second disaster, and the spaceship makes a successful landing on the distant planet. Once there, the lives of the interplanetary explorers are endangered from unknown rock formations on the Martian landscape that emit spouts of flame. Their homeward voyage is jeopardized when their remote radio control unit fails, and they appear to be destined for a crash landing on Earth; but the I. R. is once more ready with help. Flying underneath the spaceship in a "Thunderbird" rescue plane, young Alan Tracy succeeds in separating the escape unit containing the astronauts from the main body of Zero X. As the spaceship crashes, the Thunderbirds guide the escape unit safely back to Earth.
Jim, (new World Aircraft Corp.) Glenn
Space Colonel Harris
Thunderbirds Are Go
Released at the height of the James Bond craze, Thunderbirds Are Go certainly attempted to cash in on the popularity of the 007 franchise with its emphasis on espionage, saboteurs, and special effects. The creators even admitted that the Scott Tracy puppet was modeled on Sean Connery. But something was lost in the transition from television to movie screen and the Andersons' lavish marionette epic failed to click with its intended audience. A pity since no expense was spared in bringing Thunderbirds to the big screen in the "Supermarionation" process. Want to know where all the money went? Wardrobe and sets. Lady Penelope's wide array of furs and boas alone must have cost a fortune, not to mention her pink Rolls-Royce with its arsenal of weapons and communication devices. Undoubtedly, the real jawdropper is the Swinging Star nightclub set which is featured in a puppet dream sequence. Yes, you read that correctly. Here is where you'll see marionette caricatures of Cliff Richard and the Shadows performing "Shooting Star" while cavorting on a giant oversized guitar in outer space. Obviously, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were light years ahead of their peers in their philosophy about on-camera talent. Who needs big-budget stars, greedy agents, and temperamental egos on the set when you can have a cast of well-behaved puppets? The stars of Thunderbirds Are Go were relatively low maintenance (sure, they might need some paint touchups or a new head after a grueling day under the hot studio lights), required no meals, breaks, or bathroom facilities, and never embarrassed themselves by ending up on the front page of The National Enquirer. And when critics wrote that the cast of Thunderbirds Are Go gave "wooden" performances, they were just stating the obvious. Yes, sir, no cheap plastic parts for these superstars! Actually, all the marionettes were composed of interchangeable parts made out of urethane foam and fibreglass.
Seen today, the plot of Thunderbirds Are Go will seem oddly prescient in view of the recent World Trade Center catastrophe since the film opens with an act of sabotage. The Hood, the Thunderbirds' nemesis, attempts to destroy the Zero-X, the new Mars explorer craft, during its test flight but botches the job after getting his foot crushed in a piece of the plane's machinery. The rest of the film details the Tracy family's long-planned exploration of Mars - where they get to battle some goofy-looking rock monsters - and their ongoing rescue operations dedicated to people in trouble, whether it's delivering the antidote for a deadly disease or retrieving someone's eyeglasses from a fish tank. But even puppets like to party and have fun after a hard day at the office. And romance? Fans have constantly speculated about the sex lives of these string-operated actors, and don't tell us you're never wondered if Alan Tracy and Lady Penelope did the wild thang. Just watch that subtle body language between them in the nightclub scene.
Admittedly, Thunderbirds Are Go has its faults; the most major problem being pacing. It takes an eternity to launch ANYTHING in this movie - whether it's a rocket or a hydrofoil. You'll feel yourself growing older as cranes and hydraulic lifts slowly - very slowly - prepare for a missile launch. Now you'll know why England never won the space race. And why is it that none of the voices for the characters, except for Lady Penelope, her chauffeur, and Tin-Tin, have British accents since the film is so distinctively British in every other respect? Yes, even puppets observe teatime in Thunderbirds Are Go. But enough grousing. Thunderbirds Are Go deserves to be seen for what it is - a pop culture novelty as fascinating and endearing as a favorite toy from one's childhood. Even today, the Thunderbirds cult continues to grow and includes such celebrity fans as Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson. After Thunderbirds Are Go, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson created a sequel, Thunderbird 6 (1968), which marked the end of the Thunderbirds franchise, but they continued to work in the sci-fi genre, producing the film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) and TV series like UFO (1970) and Space:1999 (1975).
Producer: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson
Director: David Lane
Screenplay: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson
Cinematography: Harry Oakes
Film Editing: Len Walter
Original Music: Barry Gray
Principal Cast: Sylvia Anderson (Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward), Ray Barrett (John Tracy), David Graham (Gordon Tracy), Alexander Davion (Greg Martin), Peter Dyneley (Jeff Tracy), Christine Finn (Tin-Tin).
by Jeff Stafford
Thunderbirds Are Go
The top 60s pop group Cliff Richard and the Shadows "appear" in this film in puppet form, Portrayed as future versions of themselves. They perform two songs: an instrumental, and "Shooting Star."
The first feature film to be shot using the Livingston Electronic Viewfinder Unit, also known as Add-a-Vision. This was basically an electronic viewfinder that could be used in conjunction with a Mitchell BNC Camera to take a television picture directly from the camera, enabling the staff of the entire unit to watch any scene being filmed on the television monitors.
Filmed in Supermarionation. Opened in London in December 1966.